Richmond planners approve 17
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Richmond planners approve 17

May 22, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's the newest chapter in an almost year-long fight to keep Manchester's view of the Richmond skyline clear.

The Richmond Planning Commission on Monday approved a Special Use Permit for a new apartment complex, set to be located at 301 West Sixth Street, to go before City Council.

The nearly three-acre development will have two 17-story-tall towers, set to hold about 550 units.

There will also be off-street parking available to residents.

The move comes about a year after the developer, Avery Hall Investors, changed its original building plans, which were approved by Richmond City Council in June 2020.

Those plans called for an 11-story tower with up to 350 units.

In July 2022, Avery Hall changed the plans to include one 13-story tower and one 17-story tower, then later changed the plans again.

The most recent plans included a gap between the two towers to allow for some view of the Richmond skyline. It also pushed one tower slightly closer to the river to broaden the view.

The plan to place a new apartment complex behind Legend Brewing Company, a Manchester staple known for its scenic view of the Richmond skyline, caused concern for some living and working in the area.

David Gott, VP of Legend Brewing, said over the last few months, more families and business owners have pushed back against the project.

"They're passing around a petition, they've garnered about 368 signatures of people who frequent the neighborhood, people who live in the neighborhood. Ten of the area businesses right around here, all of whom are not happy with the size and the spectrum of the development," Gott said.

Even with the potential for an influx of customers, parking issues are also top of mind, Gott said.

"There's definitely a tradeoff. It's hard to tell because we’re losing a lot of our business from elsewhere," Gott said. "Again, if you can't park. We have people drive by, we have people call and say we want to have a party there, can you guarantee you’ll have a place for everybody to park? It's kind of hard to make those guarantees."

Gott spoke alongside several community members who shared their concerns at Monday's meeting, many of whom said the new apartment complex would alter the look and feel of the neighborhood, calling the new building a potential "monolith" that would tower above other residential buildings in the area and "obliterate" the skyline.

"You look at every commercial, every advertisement right now, they're using our view to promote something, and that's something that should be considered by this commission," one speaker said.

According to presenters at the meeting, the Richmond Department of Public Works conducted traffic reviews and did not recommend any improvements in terms of the project in the immediate vicinity or surrounding area.

The new plan would also include more greenspace and pedestrian improvements, which they said aligned with Richmond's 300 Master Plan, which aims at bringing more housing, business, and activity to Richmond's urban areas.

Representatives with Avery Hall also promised to give $1 million toward affordable housing efforts, a result of several meetings with Manchester Alliance.

"The project is really the result of months and months of working with the community on this project, and we're looking forward to being a great neighbor," Jay Smith, a spokesperson for Avery Hall, said.

Smith said it should take about a month until City Council is able to make a decision on the development. Construction would start shortly thereafter.

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